Why You Should Always Consider Mediation Before Litigating a Divorce

Divorce is a complex process that can bring feelings of anger or sadness to everyone involved. Conflict in the divorce can mean more emotional and economic pain, for the litigants and any children involved.

Mediating a divorce is an excellent decision to help avoid an expensive legal battle and reduce that stress by providing the parties to the suit with more control over the case’s outcome.

Learn why mediation is better than divorce, then contact our Dallas divorce mediation attorneys for more information.

Divorce Mediation Overview

Divorce mediation allows separating couples to meet with a neutral third party, with or without counsel, to resolve any issues or items of contention in a divorce. Mediation is preferable to litigation because it is less upsetting and almost always less expensive. Divorce mediation also usually allows the parties to finish their case quicker than a standard divorce.

Another important benefit to mediation is that you and your partner have the ultimate say—subject to agreement and the confines of the law—over your contested issues. Outside of extreme circumstances when mediation may not be the best course of action, any agreement reached in mediation is binding on the Court. This means that you both can keep the power and control over your relationship, and the Court is not making ordering things that no one asked for.

How Mediation Works

Divorce mediation starts when you and your partner agree and select a mediator, or the Court appoints one. While divorce mediation is voluntary in most states, Texas courts have the power to order the parties to mediate their case. This is the limit to what the Court can do, as the Court cannot force parties to reach agreements.

While mediation is highly successful in resolving cases, it is most effective when both parties are willing to negotiate their contentious divorce issues. Usually, the mediator will set up an appointment in a neutral setting with the spouses (and counsel, if any). During this initial meeting, the spouses can talk about their views on common divorce topics that, include:

  • Division of assets
  • Child visitation and custody
  • Child support
  • Alimony

The first discussion helps your mediator to understand how realistic a possible resolution to the case is via mediation. As a further means of “keeping the peace” during these sessions, the mediator will generally have each side in a separate room (or Zoom room, if being done electronically).

There is no time limit on divorce mediation in Texas. Everyone can continue working with the mediator to reach an agreement until an agreement is reached, or the process becomes unworkable. If the issues are too complex or the conflict is too high for agreements to be reached, litigation is still possible. Still, mediation is almost always less expensive than a lengthy divorce fought out in the courts. Parties can save thousands of dollars—and ever-valuable time—by resolving their case through mediation.

Is Mediation An Option?

Mediation is possible if there is a chance you and your partner will agree to the terms of a divorce. Also, both sides need to be open on finances, and agreement is required on child custody matters. However, mediation is not usually advisable if there is a history of domestic violence.

Contact Our Dallas Divorce Mediation Attorneys Today

Divorce is painful, and a contentious divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating. Everyone is better off when both sides can agree to divorce terms without an extended legal quarrel. Divorce mediation is a great choice to reach these agreements, whether the issues are alimony, child custody, or division of property.

The Dallas divorce mediation attorneys at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson can help with mediating your divorce to bring your case to an agreeable conclusion without a lengthy legal battle. Our attorneys are proud to serve the communities of Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, and San Antonio. Please contact our Dallas divorce mediation attorneys at (214) 273-2400.

The post Why You Should Always Consider Mediation Before Litigating a Divorce appeared first on ONDA Family Law.

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The Simplest Way to Reduce Anxiety & Trauma Symptoms: Part 3



0:00 The Simplest Way to Reduce Anxiety & Trauma Symptoms
1:38 Grounding defined–and Why it helps!
10:15 Some Variations of Grounding

(Don’t forget to watch the first video in this series!) NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT!

www.drcraigmalkin.com/the-book

One of the most powerful tools in battling anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder, drawn straight from science, is the knowledge of how trauma symptoms operate in our nervous system.

Here, in a three -part video, you’ll learn why PTSD develops, and how our bodies already have a built-in capacity to overcome it.

Posttraumatic stress disorder falls into 4 clusters of symptoms:

Reexperiencing (intrusion), which includes nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories, and even body memories (physical feelings associated with past trauma that occur in the present.)

Hyperarousal, which includes intense anxiety and feeling chronically or intermittently “keyed up or on edge,” often presenting as irritability and/or strong startle responses or jumpiness.

Avoidance of thoughts feelings and reminders of the traumatic experience, which often includes emotional “numbing”

Changes in mood and thinking, especially feelings of depression and an impulse to isolate (this latter cluster, not mentioned in my video, has only recently been added in the DSM V) .

The key to reducing any symptom of PTSD–or anxiety , itself, for that matter–is to remember the lesson from over half a century of research: *you can’t be relaxed and anxious at the same time* The fancy name for this well established phenomenon is “reciprocal inhibition.”

For some time now, we’ve known that there are two sides to the nervous system: the sympathetic (flight or flight) and parasympathetic (relaxation response). When one side of the nervous system switches on, the other begins switching off (or more accurately, as one becomes more active, the other becomes less active.)

This is far more than a fun research fact There’s tremendous power in this knowledge because *all the symptoms of PTSD ride on top of a fight or flight state.* All of them.

Without the sympathetic nervous system in full drive, we can’t have intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, jumpiness, or avoidance (which is s way of reducing anxiety in the short term). We have no need to isolate or shut down. We’re less likely to fly off the handle. Not because we’ve convinced ourselves we’re safe, but because our nervous system is no longer acting as though we’re always in a life and death situation.

In other words, the push-pull of these two sides of our nervous system means we have the capacity to self-manage trauma and anxiety symptoms; the more time we spend practicing known methods of activating a parasympathetic reaction–mediation, progressive muscle relaxation. yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, aerobic exercise (which trigger a calmness afterwards)–the more trauma symptoms begin to lose their hold on us. We remember the feeling of peace, more and more–and so does our nervous system. I call this lowering your idle.

Picture the idle on a car. It can be set higher or lower, depending on how the engine is tuned. If it starts lower, it can’t redline (over rev or overheat) as easily or quickly.

The same is true of our nervous system. Greater familiarity with (and time in) a parasympathetic state makes us less likely to “red line” (experience fight or flight spikes) because our sympathetic nervous system arousal is already at a lower state. And that means fewer trauma symptoms.

In this followup video, I demonstrate a simple combination of mindful breathing and grounding to practice activating a parasympathetic response while feeling *safely* present, which is key to reducing trauma symptoms without triggering dissociation.

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INDIEBOUND: www.indiebound.org/book/9780062348111
BOOKS-A-MILLION: www.booksamillion.com/p/Rethinking-Narcissism/Craig-Malkin/9780062348111?id=8510117162309
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Can I have my attorney’s fees paid by my spouse?

Everyone knows that a divorce is not fun. On top of not exactly being a walk in the park, it can also be expensive, stressful and an emotional roller coaster for you and your family. Paying for a divorce could end up being one of the most important factors in your entire case. Being able to make sure that you can afford the divorce that you are seeking is among the most critical pieces of information that you can learn about during the entire process. Starting down a road that you cannot afford to continue down is not where you want to find yourself. Plan your divorce, plan the costs, and develop a strategy for meeting the costs head-on. That is a winning strategy no matter what ends up happening in your case.

It makes sense to inquire about whether your spouse can pay your attorney’s fees. After all, it may be the “fault” of your spouse that you are even in this position. You’ve been a faithful and loving partner to your spouse but he or she may have committed adultery, wasted community assets, or engaged in cruel behavior toward you, and your marriage has failed as a result. You didn’t want to file for divorce, after all. Rather, the divorce was thrust upon you due to the actions of your spouse. Now that you are learning what the costs are of a divorce you may want to know what the options are as far as your spouse being able to pay your attorney’s fees.

The answer that a lawyer gives whenever an answer is unclear is it depends. The judge in your case will determine whether your spouse can be ordered to pay your attorney fees if you ask for them to be paid by him or her. This analysis is performed on a case-by-case basis so we would need to know more about your specific circumstances before I can give you an answer on this subject. In a lot of divorce cases, each party pays their attorney. In others, one spouse is ordered to pay all the attorney’s fees.

What is the process involved in asking your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees?

Unless you ask the court to order your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees it won’t happen. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. In your Original Petition for Divorce or Counterpetition, you need to petition the court to have your spouse pay for your attorney’s fees. Make sure that your attorney is aware that you want this to be included in your petition or counterpetition. Most attorneys will include a request for attorney’s fees regardless of if you mention anything to him or her, but to be safe you should make this known to your attorney before the petition is filed. Otherwise, your petition will need to be amended to include the request.

What are the factors that a family court judge will look to when determining whether attorney’s fees should be granted?

Texas is a community property state. This means that at the time of your divorce all property owned by you and your spouse is presumed to be community property and therefore subject to division in your divorce. There are exceptions to this rule but generally speaking the property and debts of your marriage at the time of your divorce are divisible. Included in this rule are attorney’s fees. Your attorney’s fees can be divided between the two of you as a part of your divorce. You can negotiate for that as a part of your divorce settlement, or you can ask the court to order your spouse to have that done.

Property is to be divided in a just and right manner. Fairness counts, in other words. The financial wherewithal of you and your spouse will be of the utmost importance to a judge when it comes to looking at the costs of your case and who can afford to pay what. If you are a stay-at-home spouse with no outside income opportunities, then this will matter. If your spouse is a doctor with oodles of money and a high income then this will matter, as well. Expect that you will have a good chance to have your spouse pay for your attorney’s fees in this case.

Just because a divorce is ongoing does not mean that your bills are going to stop coming in. Rent, mortgage, utilities, school tuition, etc. These responsibilities that are a part of your life will continue to need to be taken care of even after the divorce is filed. This may seem unfair but that is the reality of the situation. With this in mind, adding attorney’s fees on top of this equation can be too much for you to handle if you have no income coming. Your spouse may well have to pay attorney’s fees for both of you in this situation.

How do fault grounds play into how attorney’s fees are divided, if at all?

A relevant question to ask would be whether your spouse’s bad actions will have any impact on how attorney’s fees are divided. We have already discussed fault grounds in terms of how they may impact how costs and other aspects of your divorce are divided as far as property is concerned. Keep in mind that attorney’s fees are usually awarded at the end of a divorce. You can negotiate with your spouse so that attorney’s fees are paid out over time, but you may have a judge order a lump sum to be paid to you at the end of a divorce once you have submitted a bill to him or her. Make sure that you have a detailed billing statement from your attorney but not one that shows the nature of conversations that were discussed or anything else that would violate the privileges associated with the attorney-client relationship.

It is a common practice in divorces for a judge to order both you and your spouse to produce accountings for your attorney’s fees. That way the judge can compare the bills and other costs associated with the divorce to decide if attorney’s fees will need to be divided. If not, then you will need to pay your lawyer any fees that are unpaid at that time or work out a payment plan of some sort with them. However, if you have factors that you believe are favorable to you then you should present those to the judge in your pleadings and then plan to have your attorney’s fees ready for the judge at the end of your case.

If you can’t afford to pay your attorney….

Let’s say that you are going along through your case, and you suddenly discover that you won’t be able to pay your attorney’s fees. For most people, it won’t be a sudden realization that you cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars to a lawyer for their fees. This will probably be a realization that you have before the case begins. You may be lucky enough to have a family member or someone else who will step up to the plate and offer to pay those attorney’s fees for you temporarily until you can pay them back. They may give you some money to pay as a retainer to your spouse until you get an award for attorney’s fees during the divorce case.

You can ask for temporary attorney’s fees in your divorce by filing a motion for interim attorney’s fees. The judge can either hold a hearing on the matter or can simply address your motion and any response from your spouse to determine if interim attorney’s fees will be allowed. The attorney’s fees accrued by both sides as well as your resources will be looked at in depth to determine if attorney’s fees can be paid on an interim basis.

How can you avoid paying attorney’s fees?

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot now. Suppose that your spouse has asked a judge to order you to pay their attorney’s fees. Are there any steps that you can take to avoid being put in a position where you could be ordered to pay for those fees? One step that you can take is to hire your attorney to argue why you should not be made to pay for your spouse’s attorney fees. Simply having your attorney pay for you does not absolve you of having to pay for your spouse’s attorney’s fees. Rather, this is a decision that will be made based on several different factors that we have already discussed in some detail today. However, it is a useful argument to be able to make when you have your lawyer to pay and a tight budget, to begin with.

What you and your attorney can do is present a detailed and accurate rundown of your income, your monthly bills and expenses, and any other costs that exist for you which may limit your ability to pay for your spouse’s attorney fees. Simply not having the money to pay for your spouse’s attorney’s fees may be the best way to avoid having to pay them. Of course, if you are using community income to pay for your attorney’s fees and have drained a jointly held bank account then this would be a factor worth considering if you are a family court judge.

Resources that are available for low-income Texans

If you are going through a divorce and have a very low or no income at all then you may wonder if there are any resources available to you that can assist you in moving your case forward. As luck would have it, yes, there are. From the very beginning of your case, you need to know that there are costs associated with simply filing for divorce. For example, it will cost you money to file an Original Petition for Divorce. If you have a very low income, then you may be able to have your court costs waived by filling out an application to have your fees waived. This is known as a statement of inability to afford the payment of court costs. By filling out the form you can tell a judge that you cannot afford to pay these basic costs associated with your divorce and that you need to have them waived.

Your spouse may also be in a position where he or she can be ordered to help you survive financially at least until the divorce is over. For example, you can ask for temporary spousal support. Temporary spousal support will have your spouse pay you a certain sum of money each month until the divorce is complete. This may not be a large sum of money but likely would be based on your monthly expenses over and above what you can afford to pay based on your income. In your motion for temporary orders, you can ask for temporary spousal support.

Contractual alimony comes at the end of a case when you and your spouse agree that you should be able to receive a certain sum of money for a certain period after your divorce. Contractual alimony would be negotiated using elements of contract law rather than family law. This is important to note because in the future you would not be able to enforce provisions in your divorce decree involving contractual alimony in the same way that you would spousal maintenance. As we are about to see, spousal maintenance is included in the Texas family code and a judge can enforce their orders regarding this subject. However, contractual alimony is different.

In a divorce trial, spousal maintenance can be ordered by a judge if you and your spouse do not agree on contractual alimony. It is difficult to be awarded spousal maintenance in a divorce. A judge can only award spousal maintenance if you or your spouse lack sufficient property after the divorce to be able to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Additionally, the spouse who would be paying spousal maintenance would need to have been convicted or received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense against the receiving spouse or child within two years of the divorce having been filed. Or spousal maintenance can be ordered if you or your spouse is unable to earn enough money to meet your minimum reasonable needs due to a disability suffered by you or your child. Finally, the most common circumstance under which spousal maintenance is paid is when you and your spouse have been married for at least 10 years and there is a proven financial need for the support.

What kind of financial support can you gain from your spouse immediately? a new paragraph in some instances you may require financial support from your spouse right away. In that case, you can ask a judge to issue a temporary restraining order or temporary orders. A temporary restraining order would last for a relatively short period until a hearing can be held, or mediation can allow the two of you to resolve your matter amicably. Once you have temporary orders in place, those orders will typically last until your divorce is over.

Temporary orders in a divorce which involved children can include any orders that are necessary to promote the safety and well-being of your child. Otherwise, temporary orders involving children most typically relate to temporary conservatorship, child support, health insurance, and possession. When it comes to the property in your divorce temporary orders can also determine how property is to be used temporarily, how debts are to be allocated during the case and whether spousal support and attorney’s fees need to be paid. These are essential pieces of information that you need to be very specific about when you ask a court for these items to be paid.

Closing thoughts on attorney’s fees in Texas divorce cases

If you want to give yourself the best possible chance to have your attorney’s fees paid for by your spouse in a divorce, then you need to be prepared. Having an organized budget that can show what your income is versus what your other responsibilities are is extremely important. The better organized and more detailed you can be the better chances you will have to have a judge order attorney’s fee to be paid on either an interim or final basis after your divorce case. Also, if your spouse has an attorney, it would be in your best interest for you to consider hiring one as well. An attorney will not make decisions for you and your case but will help guide you and provide you with context to assist you with making wise decisions based on the law as well as the circumstances of your case.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to look at the circumstances of your case and how the family law of Texas may impact those circumstances.

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The word January in blocks

January: The Month of Divorce And Reinvention

The word January in blocks

 

It is the month of reinvention, and it’s just around the corner. We vow to lose weight, be healthier, add things to our life that will bring positive change, and move forward with hard decisions that we may have been putting off. For many, this includes filing for divorce.

The Month of Divorce and Reinvention

If this is you, follow these steps to reduce conflict and improve the process for everyone involved.

  1. Do your research – what are the divorce laws where you live? Are you in a “no-fault” state (you don’t have to prove any wrongdoing by either spouse)? Is there a waiting period? What are the residency requirements?
  2. Contact an attorney or coach now – This will help you to better understand the landscape in your state, ask your questions and start thinking about what legal approach is best for you (collaboration, mediation, pro se). This can also be a valuable step in setting the tone you want for this separation and divorce. Choosing the high road now will likely pay off throughout the process, saving you time and money and reducing stress.
  3. Prepare messages and consider timing – Think carefully about how and with whom you will need to share this information. Have you already talked with your spouse, and you’re making the announcement together? If you’re sharing the news with your children, make sure you choose a time that allows for questions and the inevitable emotional response. Do you have kids home from college? Give them time to process this before they go back. Additionally, think about the words you want to use and those you don’t.
  4. Do your financial homework – Make a list of all your accounts and passwords and make copies of any insurance policies, trusts, real estate documents, and retirement information that you can find. You should also think about your budget and financial security. What do you want and need, and are they the same?
  5. Finally, plan for what you’ll need to do post-conversation. Will you want to stay in the house? Do you need to alert a friend or family member that you may be coming over? Do you anticipate anger or frustration? How might you respond to a difficult conversation?

Brave and Difficult First Step

If you think your spouse or others will be surprised by this announcement, give them time to process it. It’s easy to forget that you’ve been thinking about this and planning for some time, and they may need to catch up to you.

Perhaps most importantly, give yourself credit for taking a brave and difficult step. It may not be easy, but if you know, it’s right for you, trust yourself and remember that you are worth the effort.

The post January: The Month of Divorce And Reinvention appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Interactive Process Obligation Continues Through Litigation

Today’s blog entry deals with the question of whether the interactive process continues through any litigation and whether evidence of that interactive process taking place or not taking place when the case is being litigated can be brought into evidence. The case is Kovachich v. Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, here, decided by the Supreme Court of Connecticut on September 27, 2022. As usual, the blog entry is divided into categories and they are: facts; majority reasoning that exhibits were properly admitted; Chief Justice Robinson’s dissenting opinion; and thoughts/takeaways. Of course, the reader is free to focus on any or all of the categories.

 

I

Facts

 

The facts can be distilled quite a bit. What you have here is a plaintiff requesting from her employer a scent free work environment. While the employer granted accommodations, some employees failed to comply with the scent free working environment designation. As a result, plaintiff was exposed to scents at the jobsite that exacerbated her rhinitis and asthma and on multiple occasions triggered the need for emergency medical treatment. She then sought out legal counsel to ensure that she was protected in the workplace. The plaintiff, her counsel, and the human resources director did meet with the result being a notice was placed on the overtime sign-up sheet informing employees that the Brief Care Unit was scent free. However, with limited exceptions, no additional measures were taken to educate the workforce or to enforce the scent free designation by means of workforce discipline. This led to a filing with the Connecticut version of the equal employment opportunity commission.

 

At trial, plaintiff’s counsel sought to introduce into evidence an April 29, 2013, email from plaintiff’s counsel to a Connecticut Assistant Attorney General with a subject line, “request for demand.” the content of that email asked for a discussion to find a solution to ensure that plaintiff could be given a scent free environment. No such meeting took place in response to the email. Plaintiff’s counsel also offered into evidence in the email of May 30, 2013, stating that one of the plaintiff’s coworkers was also affected by scents in mandatory training situations and suggesting that online training as a possible accommodation. It also said her employer’s approach was the wrong one and that plaintiff intended to move forward with her case. It specifically inquired about what solutions the employer might propose. Plaintiff’s counsel also sought to introduce into evidence a July 22, 2013 letter containing a set of demands and ending with, “we would be happy to meet with representatives of the defendant who has authority to discuss and recommend these requests.” All of these exhibits were offered for purposes of illustrating plaintiff’s attempts at the interactive process. The trial court admitted the exhibits and wound up finding in favor of the plaintiff awarding $3800 of additional pension income. It also awarded the plaintiff $125,000 for the emotional distress caused by the actions of the employer and $415,389.50 in attorney fees.

 

The defendant appealed to the appellate court and the appellate court wound up agreeing with the defendant on that the various exhibits should not have been admitted and for other reasons as well. Plaintiff appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

 

II

Court’s Reasoning That the Exhibits Were Properly Admitted

 

  1. It is true that the Connecticut Code of Evidence provides that evidence of an offer to compromise or settle a disputed claim is inadmissible on the issue of liability and the amount of the claim. Good policy reasons exist for that rule.
  2. It is also true that the Connecticut Code of Evidence allows an offer to compromise or settle a disputed claim into evidence if it is offered for another purpose. The list of purposes that appear in that statute are illustrated rather than exhaustive.
  3. Whether the exhibits should have been admitted is an evidentiary area issue reviewed for an abuse of discretion.
  4. The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act borrows from the ADA and requires an interactive process to figure out what accommodation can be put in place in order to overcome a person with a disability’s limitations.
  5. The need for the interactive process arises because both parties hold information that the other does not have or cannot easily obtain.
  6. The employee has the burden of initiating the interactive process must come forward with some suggestion of accommodation, and the employer then must make a good-faith effort to participate in that discussion.
  7. A plaintiff who fails to initiate or participate in the interactive process in good faith loses.
  8. An employer’s refusal to give an employee his or her specific requested accommodation does not necessarily amount to bad faith, so long at the employer makes an earnest attempt to discuss other potential reasonable accommodations.
  9. An employer’s failure to participate in the interactive process in good faith does not give rise to per se liability. However, it may be sufficient grounds for denying a defendant’s motion for summary judgment because it is at least some evidence of discrimination. In other words, in Connecticut a failure to engage in a good faith interactive process, is not a separate cause of action but can be introduced as evidence tending to show disability discrimination.
  10. The interactive process required by law is ongoing and is not exhausted by one effort. The ongoing interactive process continues during the course of plaintiff’s employment even after the plaintiff has filed a complaint alleging disability discrimination.
  11. The Connecticut Supreme Court found persuasive the reasoning of numerous federal courts that have been admitted evidence of compromise offers and negotiations for purposes of showing that the parties engaged in the interactive process.
  12. Nothing in the record establishes that the communications contained in the exhibits occurred within the context of the commission’s mandatory mediation program. In fact, plaintiff’s complaint had been pending with the commission for approximately one year and had been referred to in commission investigator at the time the document was generated, which means that the mandatory mediation had at least concluded.
  13. Although the communication contained in the exhibits occurred while the plaintiff’s complaint was pending before the commission, no evidence exists to indicate that the exhibits were part of the commission’s conciliation efforts, as opposed to their investigative efforts, or independent of the commission’s efforts altogether.
  14. The purpose of the evidentiary admissions was not to show liability but to show that a party was engaging in the interactive process.
  15. The trial court did not rely on the exhibits to find that the defendant engaged in discrimination. Instead, the trial court found that the defendant had failed to effectuate the plaintiff’s accommodations by an abject failure to make any reasonable effort to educate the staff about what a scent free environment meant and a supervisor’s refusal to do anything whatsoever about the scent free workplace environment provided by the ADA committee.
  16. While the trial court did rely on the defendant’s failure to respond to one of the exhibits to find that the good faith interactive process had broken down, that finding was based on defendant’s failure to present any evidence that it responded to the plaintiff’s communication, rather than the content of the communication itself.
  17. There was no error in the trial court’s determination that the exhibits were highly relevant to the defendant’s ability to react intelligently and legally to the plaintiff’s request for accommodations.
  18. The content of the communications demonstrate that the plaintiff wanted to continue with the interactive process but was getting nowhere.

 

III

Chief Justice Robinson Dissenting Opinion

 

  1. Failure to engage in interactive process is not entirely distinct from the liability inquiry as a matter of law.
  2. Most circuits find a failure to engage in the interactive process results in liability when a reasonable accommodation would otherwise have been possible.
  3. Connecticut Code of Evidence prohibits admissibility of a variety of things when it goes to liability in general.
  4. Majority view is too narrow as to what is part of the mediation process.

 

IV

Thoughts/Takeaways

 

  1. My thanks to Daniel Schwartz, who has a blog called the Connecticut Employer Law Blog (the link will take you to his discussion of the case), for first bringing my attention to this case.
  2. Six justices were in the majority with the Chief Justice being the lone dissenter.
  3. The interactive process is a continuing duty that continues through any litigation.
  4. I am not a Connecticut licensed attorney. Mileage may also vary depending upon jurisdiction.
  5. Federal case law exists holding that request to engage in the interactive process made during ongoing litigation can be admitted for the purpose of demonstrating the continuing obligation of engaging in the interactive process.
  6. As a preventive law matter, an employer would do well to respond to any accommodation offers while litigation is ongoing. Of course, as we have discussed numerous times in our blog, such as here, once an employer is put on notice that a need for accommodation exists (magic words are not required), the employer should engage in the interactive process.
  7. In most circuits, failure to engage in the interactive process is a separate cause of action. In those circuits, the dissenting opinion here may hold quite a bit of sway because of the failure to engage in interactive process being a liability issue.

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pensive curly haired woman working on her laptop

6 Benefits Of Online Divorce

pensive curly haired woman working on her laptop

 

We often hear about the growing role of the internet in the divorce process. It isn’t unheard of for divorce filings to include the word “Facebook.” A wife reconnects with an old high school boyfriend on Facebook, and the next thing you know, divorce has been filed.

That isn’t the only way the internet is playing a larger role in the divorce process, though. The internet has become a more convenient place for dissolving marriages, thanks to online divorce services.

If you desire a hassle-free and affordable divorce, it’s easy to understand why online divorce services are growing in popularity for those seeking an uncontested divorce.

Who can File for Divorce Online?

You’re more likely to be able to take advantage of the affordability of an online divorce if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce settlement before filing for divorce. That and the factors below should be taken into consideration when filing for divorce online.

  • If the marriage was short-term
  • If there are no shared assets or debts
  • If there are no children
  • If any disagreements have already been mediated

If all or at least most of these factors are present in your marriage, then online divorce services may be advantageous to you.

6 Benefits of an Online Divorce

What are the 6 top benefits of using an online divorce company when you’re contemplating a divorce?

1. Online Divorce is Easier and Less Painful Than a Litigated Divorce

Ending a marriage is a painful and stressful process. Add to that the adversarial nature of a litigated divorce, and you make matters worse. Let’s face it, divorce attorneys are in business to make money, and amping up conflict is the way they do it.

With online divorce, however, most of the legwork is done for you without the need for attorneys. When you eliminate divorce attorneys, the entire process is smoother, less painful, and quicker. You’re provided the needed forms, fill them out, file them, and the process works for you, not against you.

2. An Online Divorce Saves You Money

According to a survey conducted by legal website Nolo, the average (mean) total cost of divorce in 2019 was $12,900, while the median cost was $7,500. However, If you do your own divorce papers and your divorce is amicable, costs could be under $500, according to LegalZoom.com.

By getting an online divorce, you can save yourself thousands of dollars! How is this possible? You don’t need an attorney, which means not getting stuck in all the conflict stirred up when you introduce an attorney into the divorce process. There are no attorney fees, no court costs, and no mediators to pay!

3. File for  Online Divorce, and you Won’t End up in Divorce Court

Most online divorce services were created with this in mind. Their goal is to keep customers out of divorce court and, due to this, offer services that make the divorce process easier and less conflicted.

For example, some online divorce services offer mediation services for issues such as child custody and child support. They encourage the use of visitation schedules and communication services to keep things civil and out of the hands of mediators and divorce court judges.

An online divorce service will work with you to keep down conflict and make the settlement process easier instead of working against you.

4. Additional Help is Available if Needed

Some online divorce services offer additional help, for example, if you don’t know the location of your spouse, you will be helped in finding them. Another way some online services offer additional support is by having attorneys on staff to answer questions someone may have about marital debt, child custody, or other divorce-related issues. Please request information about additional services before contracting with any online divorce service.

5. Online Divorce is Convenient

When you file for divorce at home on your computer there is no need to schedule meetings with a divorce attorney or, make trips to the courthouse. You can start and stop the process as needed at your own convenience.

Online divorce means:

  • You don’t miss work
  • No need to worry about childcare
  • No waiting inline
  • No need to rearrange your life

You create a username and password and sign in at your convenience to track and update your case files and documents.

6. No Need to Worry Over and Hassle with Paperwork

I’ve been through a litigated divorce. Twenty years later, and I still have boxes of paperwork in my attic! When you file for divorce online, all your paperwork in stored online, in one convenient location, and accessible to you at all times.

No need to worry about delivering paperwork to your attorney and then worrying about the attorney losing it or not properly filing it. No need to worry about taking paperwork to the post office to mail off and crossing your fingers that it gets to the proper address.

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is the paper chase you become engaged in. With an online divorce, you avoid that aspect altogether.

Divorce, in general, can test your limits. It’s painful and stressful, but being able to get an online divorce is heaven sent due to its many benefits. Do your research, know how the process works and choose the online divorce services that best fit your situation. Then enjoy the benefits of a more expedited divorce process.

The post 6 Benefits Of Online Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Mediation in the Post-Pandemic World

By Kent Altsuler

Remember when mediations were in person? Since March 2020, I’ve conducted hundreds of mediations, and almost all of them have been by Zoom. Zoom mediations started because of health concerns, of course. Even though the coronavirus appears to be finally in check, it seems that this trend in favor of Zoom may go on forever. Aside from safety benefits, remote mediations are good because adjusters and representatives don’t have to travel. So even though some people prefer to share an actual conference room with their opponents during the general session of a mediation, Zoom is obviously here to stay. The purpose of this article is to discuss the traditionally important aspects of mediations, while taking into account the reality—and potential effect—of this development.

Purpose of the Mediation

The first thing to consider when formulating your approach to a particular mediation in a particular case is: Why am I mediating? Do I actually want to settle this case? Is there information that I’m only going to get during mediation? Do I want to eyeball my opponent in a non-deposition environment? Or am I only mediating because the judge ordered me to?

The limitations placed on human beings by Zoom must be considered. While they are now a mainstay, Zoom mediations can only do so much. After two years, I’ve finally come around to the notion that they can be almost as effective as in-person mediations when it comes to actual settlement results.  Even though parties feel less pressure with Zoom than they do in person (less pressure to settle, less pressure to move, and less pressure to be affected by someone else’s behavior), enough of my Zoom cases are settling that I now have confidence that Zoom is not a compromise killer in and of itself. However, it’s almost impossible to assess a party-witness by Zoom; in fact, many times they are not even visible on the computer screen. Additionally, it’s more difficult to meaningfully share or exchange documents over Zoom than in person. In many ways, a Zoom meeting is just a glorified phone call, which sometimes is not the ideal way to experience mediation.

Length of Time

Half day or full day? My rule of thumb is no half-day mediations if liability is an issue. If we’re only going to be talking about damages, a half day is usually sufficient. Zoom indirectly impacts this decision in a couple ways. One advantage to Zoom is that going back and forth between caucus rooms is as easy as a click of a mouse. But if your mediation is going to require conceptual conversations, those communications take longer no matter whether the mediation is in person or remote. Finally, if no pre-mediation negotiations have occurred and the parties are extremely far apart on the dollar figures, then the extra cost of a full-day session may be justified.

Opening

None of the participants in my mediations are doing full-blown, old-school openings anymore.  It’s really difficult to give an opening over Zoom with the same punch as one that is given in person. Also, with the advent of Zoom, there is an enhanced desire to not waste time with posturing and to just get down to the business of negotiating potential settlement amounts. Here is how I handle this new sentiment. Because a mediation is ultimately the attorneys’ show, I don’t insist that they pound the table or present a power point if they don’t want to. But in those cases where the parties’ confidential mediation memos are simply not enough to fully educate me on the case, I encourage them to stick around in the main Zoom room together so that we can have a conversation about the non-controversial aspects of the case (where the negotiations left off, what’s really going on here, the amount of alleged damages that have already been disclosed, etc.). This minor adaptation has proven to be crucial in resolving the most-difficult-to-settle matters that I’ve encountered.

Two Traditional Problems That Are Made Even Worse by Zoom

Over the course of the past two years, I’ve observed a small number of problems that are exacerbated by the use of Zoom: (1) problems created by the initial demands/offers; and (2) problems created by the misuse of brackets.

Let’s talk about initial demands and offers first. Every lawyer has his or her own negotiating style.  Some experienced attorneys swear that over time they’ve attained superior results for their clients by starting out negotiations with hyper-aggressive numeric positions. I’m talking about the attorneys who come out of the gate in a case lacking a real liability dispute with an offer of $2,000 when the other side has had two surgeries and incurred over $100,000 in medical expenses. I’m not going to be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but I have found that this is not constructive. It gets the mediation off track right away.

And with Zoom, it’s even harder than before to get it back on track. As we all know, Zoom can be impersonal. It permits lawyers and stakeholders to “attend” a mediation while actually working on other things. Ideally, the beauty of a mediation is that everyone is focused on the same case on the same day. It’s harder to make sure that’s the reality with Zoom. For this reason, I would recommend that initial demands and offers be at least slightly reasonable. It’s hard enough to keep someone interested by Zoom, and a demand or offer that feels like it’s not made in good faith can lose someone for the rest of the day.

The other problem that seems to be getting worse in the Zoom era relates to brackets. Lots of people hate brackets. Some don’t know how to use brackets. Brackets, which are utilized when normal back-and-forth negotiations break down, are devices that limit the parameters of a potential settlement going forward. For example, a defendant may propose a bracket “with $50,000 on the low end, and $200,000 on the high end” (which on the written page looks like this: “[$50,000/$200,000]”). That means that the case will, by definition, not settle in that particular round, but it might eventually settle somewhere in the $50,000 to $200,000 range. It also means that the defendant would be willing to go up to $50,000 if the plaintiff is willing to go down to $200,000. Coming up with a good bracket takes time.

The topic of brackets warrants a whole article of its own. I actually like brackets because they give all of us in the mediation something to talk about when things seem bleak, and the mere continuation of communication can sometimes lead to resolution. But I have found that with Zoom, one misguided bracket proposal can waste a great deal of time and mental energy—and lead the parties down the wrong rabbit trail. We’ve all had mediations where we’ve been left alone in our room for way too long; with Zoom, that problem is magnified. So if one side is working on its counter to a bracket proposal for 20 minutes, the other side may lose interest altogether. Although I always offer the lawyers input on potential bracket proposals, I’ve learned to mitigate this waiting problem by checking in on all the different Zoom rooms from time to time no matter whose turn it is in the negotiations. It can be difficult or even uncomfortable to stop a Zoom conversation to pop in on the other room, but it can keep the mediation from veering off in an unfruitful or hopeless direction.

Mediator’s Proposals

A mediator’s proposal is when—after the parties’ negotiations have stalled without resolution—the mediator picks a number that he or she has some reason to believe both sides might accept. After I issue the proposal, I don’t tell either side about the responses to it unless both sides accept my terms. When that happens, I obviously inform everyone that they have a deal.

Parties have requested more mediator’s proposals from me since mediations have gone remote. But the effect that mediator’s proposals have has not been altered by this new landscape. This is most likely because the issuance of the mediator’s proposal usually takes place after the mediation itself. For example, a normal situation for me is to (1) conduct the remote mediation; (2) facilitate negotiations; (3) get the parties as close to settling as possible during the mediation; (4) field (and eventually grant) a request from one or both sides for temporary impasse; and then (5) email around a mediator’s proposal the very next day. Most of my cases settle by mediator’s proposal. Even COVID can’t stop a good deal from getting done.

Conclusion

In summary, the following are my items of advice for making Zoom mediations as effective as possible:

  • Think about your purpose for the mediation in that particular case;
  • Determine the appropriate length of your mediation;
  • Either submit a thorough confidential mediation memo or do an opening;
  • Make a thoughtful initial demand/offer;
  • Only use brackets if you have been successful using them several times in the past; and
  • Consider the use of a mediator’s proposal.

Good luck at your next mediation.

 

Kent Altsuler is a partner in the Houston office of Lewis Brisbois. He has been certified as a mediator since 2011.

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Can I File an EEOC Claim if I’m Not a Member of a Protected Class?

If you’re not a member of a protected class, can you still file an EEOC claim?

The short answer is yes, but there are some things you should know first.

 

In this article, we’ll discuss what protected classes are and when you can file a claim even if you aren’t being targeted because of your protected class. We’ll also cover some basics on EEOC claims, including retaliation.

 

What is an EEOC Claim, and Who Can File One?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is a federal agency charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. One of the ways it does this is by handling discrimination complaints (or claims) filed by employees.

If an employee is a member of a protected class and believes they have been a victim of discrimination, they can file an EEOC claim or a TWC claim with the Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division, which oversees the same issues as the EEOC.

The EEOC will then attempt to resolve the issue through mediation between the employer and employee, investigate the claim and, if it finds evidence of discrimination, concludes its process with a dismissal notice for the employee. The notice will likely include a Right to Sue, enabling the employee to file a lawsuit. If the case cannot be resolved through this process, the EEOC may file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee.

 

What Qualifies as a Protected Class?

It is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee on the basis of certain protected characteristics that are beyond a person’s control.

These characteristics, known as protected classes, are defined by law and include (but are not limited to):

  • Race,
  • Color,
  • Religion,
  • Sex,
  • National origin,
  • Disability,
  • Genetic information, and
  • Age (40 or older).

While the list of protected classes varies from state to state, the above classes are protected throughout the United States. Protected class status is important because it gives employees and applicants the right to file an EEOC/TWC claim if they believe they have been the victim of discrimination. For example, an employee who is not hired for a job because of their race could file an EEOC claim alleging racial discrimination.

Most of the laws governing discrimination protect all members of a protected class. For example, a person of any religion could potentially bring a claim of religious discrimination. However, disability discrimination and age discrimination laws only protect certain members of those protected classes. A person without a disability cannot bring a discrimination claim for not being disabled, nor can a person under 40 bring a claim for age discrimination.

While protected class status is an important factor in determining whether someone can file an EEOC claim, it is not the only factor. The EEOC and TWC also consider whether the employer has a policy or practice that disproportionately affects employees in a protected class. For example, if an employer has a policy of only hiring recent college graduates, this may disproportionately affect older workers and could be found to be discriminatory. Such policies can indicate a pattern of discriminatory behavior and lend credence to an EEOC/TWC complaint.

 

Some EEOC Claims are Available to Everyone, Not Just Members of a Protected Class

The EEOC plays a vital role in ensuring that all workers are treated fairly, not just those of certain protected classes. Some of the claims that are available to everyone are those that involve whistleblowers and retaliation.

It’s worth noting that whistleblowers and retaliation claims are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they often go hand-in-hand. Let’s take a closer look at how these claims work.

Whistleblowers

A whistleblower is an employee who reports discrimination, harassment, or other unlawful behavior that has occurred in the workplace. Whistleblower complaints can be filed by any employee, regardless of protected class status. For example, a Black employee that witnesses harassment against her Hispanic coworkers can file a whistleblower complaint on behalf of those coworkers, even if the Black employee is not experiencing discrimination herself.

There are several reasons an employee, even one who is not a member of a protected class, might want to file a whistleblower complaint. First, filing a complaint and reporting the unlawful behavior can help stop the discriminatory behavior from continuing. It can also provide relief for the victim of discrimination, and it can send the message to other employers and employees that discrimination will not be tolerated in the workplace. In some cases, whistleblowers may even be eligible for financial compensation.

Retaliation

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes negative action against an employee who engaged in a protected activity, such as:

  • Filing a discrimination complaint
  • Asking for an accommodation for a disability, pregnancy, or religious reason
  • Whistleblowing
  • Filing a complaint that overtime has not been paid
  • Taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Refusing to participate in an illegal act
  • Participating in an EEOC investigation

Common forms of retaliation include termination, demotion, and denial of benefits.

Any person can file a retaliation claim if their employer took adverse action against them for filing a complaint, reporting unlawful activity, or participating in an EEOC investigation. Not only can filing a retaliation claim discourage future instances of retaliation, but it may also result in compensation (or other relief) for the claimant.

 

Jackson Spencer Can Help With Filing a EEOC Claim

If you have been a victim of workplace retaliation or want to blow the whistle on unlawful conduct, it is important to speak with an experienced employment law attorney.

At our employee rights law firm, our experienced attorneys can assess your case and may help you determine the best course of action. And if you decide to move forward, we’ll stand by your side as zealous advocates to ensure you have the best chance of success.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

The post Can I File an EEOC Claim if I’m Not a Member of a Protected Class? appeared first on Jackson Spencer Law.

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couple sitting at a table having a debate

How To Encourage Your Soon-To-Be-Ex To Mediate Your Divorce

couple sitting at a table having a debate

 

I often get phone calls from women who want to avoid an adversarial divorce and all the associated legal costs.  We’ll discuss how mediation works and generally how much it costs.  Their next step is to approach their spouse to encourage them to mediate their divorce.  Knowing all the advantages of mediating your divorce can help convince your husband to go the mediation route.

Encourage Your Soon-To-Be-Ex To Mediate Your Divorce

Mediating your divorce is a whole lot less than the cost of a litigated divorce.  For one, only one neutral party will be examining the financial documents, budgets, and so forth.  The mediator can provide an estimate of their fee and their hourly rate.  Your spouse can take that knowledge when looking for an attorney and then he/she will quickly see that mediating is by far a less expensive choice.

Mediation makes it much less likely that you will turn into adversaries.  After all, when you file a complaint for divorce, suddenly you become “Jane Smith vs Joe Smith”.  When you each hire attorneys, it can turn into a contest very quickly, and sometimes it can escalate and get out of your control.  You have probably known people who ended up hating each other after their divorce and if you have children, this can put your children in between two warring parents.  That can leave emotional scars for life.

Mediation offers an opportunity to end your marriage with grace and mutual respect.  Raising children requires both emotional and financial cooperation.  Mediating provides an opportunity to talk about co-parenting and consider each other’s needs in a neutral controlled environment.  You make the decisions rather than attorneys or a judge.

Changing of perspectives

Each family is unique and mediating allows you to come up with solutions that better meet your needs.  Attorneys are bound by a cannon to work in your legal best interests which may not be conducive to a compromise that better suits your situation.  Judges will apply state guidelines that may not work for you, your spouse, or your children.  Mediating allows you to go over financial data together and engage in discussions that can change your perspective and allow agreements to be made that are more equitable and work better for your situation.

Finally, mediating keeps things private.  What goes on in court is on record and anyone can come into court and listen to your private matter.  Mediation is confidential and statements made can’t be repeated in court and in a mediator can’t be called to court testify or hand over his or her notes.

Mediating does not stop you from getting legal advice.  I encourage a consultation with a settlement minded attorney so everyone understands their legal rights.  This actually HELPS mediation because each spouse understands their strengths and weaknesses and an attorney can clear up misconceptions about dividing assets or support.

My mission is to help people divorce with grace, divorce in an emotionally healthier manner and in a financially smart manner.  Mediating with a Certified Divorce Financial Planner that will give you the financial guidance you need is the best move towards achieving all of those things!

The post How To Encourage Your Soon-To-Be-Ex To Mediate Your Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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woman breaking a chain

Are You Advocating For Yourself in Your Divorce?

woman breaking a chain

 

My Dear Divorced Moms,

 

My heart is as heavy for you as it is for me. Not only have you had to suffer through the loss of your relationship, but now you must determine your and your children’s future over maybe a three-hour mediation and face the long-term consequences of these quick decisions.

The caring for children while healing. The worry about their well-being. The constant waves of grief. And the anger.  And now you must plan while in this anxious state. Oh, the stress of it all.

Divorce: Do Not Do What I Did

Do not do what I did. My focus became the custody of the children and all the parenting plan details – not the finances.

While I researched and hired one of the best lawyers I could afford, the realistic economic outlook for my life after was a blip on the horizon.

I did find articles on how to plan financially after a divorce as a stay-at-home mother. I did advocate for him to keep paying the children’s insurance and acquire a life insurance policy to secure his child support payments if anything happened to him (note – this was not a suggestion from a lawyer but something I read about online from another divorced mother).

In the state where we divorced, it is 50/50 everything – parenting time, medical bills, private tuition, and extra-curricular activities.  I thought I understood what this meant.

The words from a former acquaintance after his divorce echoed in my head: “She calls herself a feminist but still wants me to take care of her after the divorce. We don’t have kids. We weren’t married that long.”

I would not be like her.  Ah, my feminist pride.

I also remember hearing others talk about that same divorcee’s recent vacation pictures on social media as her “alimony adventures,” as if to suggest her financial decisions post-divorce were still tied to how much he had to, unfortunately, pay to her.

My Divorce was Seen as “Equitable.”

My divorce was seen as “equitable” because the sale of our businesses and properties was split 50/50.

This is a limited perception. The profits went to pay off my house, and the rest went into a retirement account.

Yes, I am highly abundant in some ways. However, long term, I am distraught.

While I do wholeheartedly believe in the capabilities of women to work, to find meaningful, decently paid work while allowing flexibility for caregiving as a single mom is vastly limited.

I am a highly educated woman. I hold a Master’s degree and a certificate in Women’s Studies. Before staying at home after the birth of my first child, I was an adjunct English professor. And before that, I taught high school English full-time.

Educational professions are still highly gendered, meaning a career that is mostly dominated by females, which further means they are generally underpaid. There are not many opportunities without constant professional development demands (that require late nights, and weekend classes) to achieve, once again, limited roles and salaries for upward mobility.

This is important because although teaching provides flexibility like time off in summer, the disparity between a teacher’s salary and, let’s say, a CEO’s salary is massive.

Earning Power Should be a Factor in Settlement Negotiations

Nevertheless, instead of proclaiming an arbitrary rule of 50/50 in all finances, earning power should be a determining factor for financial decisions. If our main concern is the care of the children, then this idea isn’t shocking or anti-feminist.

So, I advise you: please look ahead. Pay attention to your financial future. Do not depend on lawyers to explain and advocate for your family’s needs. You must be discerning on this issue. You absolutely can ask for a different ratio.

Pay Attention to Your Financial Future

Frustratingly, this is something we as women must battle for instead of it being recognized innately by our exes and the courts.

If you were a stay-at-home mother for years before the divorce, your financial future is even more imperative.

The outlook that providing spousal support for half the amount of years you were married may look fair in the beginning. But the long-term view is clearly lacking.

I have applied to 127 various jobs in three years. I have tutored on the side. I have piecemealed adjunct positions, all the while being asked to pay half of private school education, medical bills, and other emergencies.

Perhaps you may have requested for the children to move schools or asked your ex to pay more tuition and then were told this was a clear manipulation tactic, that you were leveraging how much he cares about the children to make him pay for it, so you didn’t have to.

And let’s say perhaps your ex has a different “lifestyle” than you. Perhaps they drive luxury sports cars, or just built a new home, or have a house manager who does laundry and cooks and cleans, i.e., they have more than enough to provide a level of care for your children that you no longer can, a level they expect to be the norm.

Well, what is equitable here for all involved?

When does this get seen as an issue of earning power instead of an issue of revenge?

When does this become an issue based on seeing what each parent truly values instead of the well-being of their children?

When does this asking to look at finances differently stop being seen as highlighting excuses and victimhood instead of illuminating very real financial concerns for our children’s futures?

The economic warfare between divorced parents must cease.

The earning power of both parents must be a determining factor in the equality of the dissolution of marriage and the support of the children forward.

My retirement investment portfolio has substantially decreased in this post-covid economy. Teaching positions are few but have overwhelming numbers of applicants. Scouring the country to find a full-time professor job takes my children away from their dad.  This is my reality.  I wish I would not have been so short-sighted.

Stay-at-Home Mothers are Disadvantaged

But let me be clear – I do not believe stay-at-home mothers are financial victims.

Yes, systematically, we are disadvantaged (lower-waged careers, being the primary caregiver, breaks in work history seen as a negative, etc.)

But part of this is our own lack of financial knowledge and giving away our power as independent actors once married. We defer all financial decisions to our husbands. When half of the marriages end in divorce, we are clearly setting ourselves up for economic peril.

We have power by recognizing our part in the situation. Let me remind you; I said part. This is not all our fault. I am not victim-blaming here. I am looking for ways to support solutions to these issues.

But we have failed ourselves by failing to learn we have control from the beginning. We have control over the outcomes by what we advocate for in our divorce.

And I know I am giving you yet another concern on your already full plate. I hate that for us. And I recognize here I am asking us, women, to keep demanding we should be seen and heard, and understood in a world that doesn’t always do that.

Not only should long-term earning power be considered in divorce, but we must become soldiers in our personal war, developing financial due diligence as women.

We must learn. We must speak. We must advocate. We must. We absolutely must.

And I’m sorry, honey. Lots of work to still do. The only thing I can offer you to lighten the load is community.  I’m here. I am hearing you. I am seeing you. I am understanding you.

In solidarity,

Emily

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